ERA Architects

University Ave.: A heritage landscape of value?

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The summer edition of Ground Magazine features an article by ERA’s Michael McClelland and Brendan Stewart on the history and design of Toronto’s University Avenue.

When it was first designed in 1829 the Avenue was hailed as “one of, if not the finest in the Dominion.” Over the next century, the tranquil tree-lined promenade fell into some decline and became a desolate and under-maintained roadway.

In the early 1960s, however, the central boulevards were redesigned by Dunington-Grubb & Stensson. This striking modernist redesign has also been left to fall somewhat by the wayside. The article asks us to reconsider its value.

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If we do indeed value this remarkable landscape, could restoration of the islands, coupled with new tree plantings and integrated pavements on the outer boulevards be considered?  Could the islands be linked to each other by pedestrian crossings to restore the opportunity to promenade?

Further examination and discussion of this important project is warranted. We welcome feedback and ideas!

To read the full article, please visit Ground Online (see page 30 of pdf).

Toronto the Good: Great!

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Toronto the Good  2014, our tenth annual public party, was a big success. We had attendance exceeding 1000 people, and, according to accounts, a good time was had by all. Beer and wine flowed, music spun, people danced, and a great deal of urban-minded mingling occurred. Continue reading…

RAC Zoning Approved for 500 Sites

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This June, Toronto City Council approved the proposed Residential Apartment Commercial (RAC) zone. Following a process of nearly two years of research, public consultation, policy development, and advocacy in partnership with United Way, City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health, the RAC zoning will take effect by summer’s end, (barring appeal), in nearly 500 Apartment properties that form dozens of Apartment Neighbourhoods across the city.

The new zoning by-law provides a new and flexible land-use framework for Apartment Neighbourhoods. The goal of this new framework is to enable healthy, complete, and vibrant neighbourhoods better able to respond to local needs and opportunities. The goal is addressed primarily by allowing for a full range of uses within these neighbourhoods: commercial activity, social activity, and community services – amenities that most areas of Toronto take for granted. Continue reading…

Birnbaum on Toronto’s landscapes

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On Wed. May 21, Charles Birnbaum from The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) spoke at Toronto’s Arts and Letters Club. This “Inside the Planner’s Studio” event was sponsored by the City of Toronto and attended by City staff in Parks, Urban Design, and Planning, as well as numerous professionals in architecture and landscape design. Charles introduced the work of TCLF and brought a useful third-party perspective to some of the issues faced by Toronto’s designed landscapes. Continue reading…

New opportunities through zoning reform: Your feedback needed

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Photo: Jesse Colin Jackson

The City of Toronto wants to bring more vitality and convenience to its Apartment Neighbourhoods. In March and April, a number of public consultations will be held to incorporate the ideas of community members.

A new zoning type, “Residential Apartment Commercial” (RAC), has been created to provide more amenities and more usable public space in selected neighbourhoods.

Continue reading…

We’re off to Botwood, Nfld.

As part of the Culture of Outports initiative, ERA’s Andrew Pruss, Alana Young, and Jordan Molnar are heading to Botwood Newfoundland from Feb. 15 to 22. Together with a group of Ryerson Architecture students, we’ll be collaborating with the community on a number of events, as well as the design and construction of an intervention in the local landscape. Continue reading…

Hamilton Heritage Inventory

Recently, ERA’s Michael McClelland and Victoria Angel spoke to a group of approximately 80 people at the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton regarding ERA’s role in Hamilton’s Downtown Built Heritage Inventory (DBHI) project.

The DBHI project is a pilot project to review and update information about 789 downtown properties on the Inventory of Buildings of Architectural and / or Historical Interest (within the area bounded by Wellington, Queen, Hunter, and Cannon streets). A preliminary assessment of the heritage value of these properties is also being carried out. Continue reading…

Toronto / Sweden: Resilient Urbanism

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Over the past several years we’ve had the pleasure of an ongoing exchange with colleagues in Sweden regarding urban design. This has included a series of research tours, participation in the neighbourhood design project Selma in Göteborg, and various events in collaboration with the Swedish consulate here in Toronto. The aim of the exchange is to tackle the challenge of  achieving sustainable and resilient urbanism in northern locales. Continue reading…

Port Union Community Build

The Culture of Outports program has just concluded its third year of “community build” projects in Trinity Bay North, Newfoundland. The project uses planning and design thinking to bring new ideas and energy to outport communities experiencing economic and social change post-fisheries.

This year ERAers Andrew Pruss, Alana Young, Shelley Ludman, Douglas de Gannes, traveled with Ryerson students Madeleine Craig, Ryan Giuricich, Mitchell May, Elijah Sabadlan, and Karl Sarkis to the Trinity Bay North communities of Catalina, Little Catalina, Melrose, and Port Union. Continue reading…

Charles Birnbaum talk: Thurs. May 23

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Thursday May 23, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., U of T’s Daniels Faculty, 230 College St., Rm. 103, Toronto

Thursday May 23, join us for an exciting lecture by Charles Birnbaum of The Cultural Landscape Foundation. Charles will be discussing the interpretation and conservation of modernist landscapes as a part of how we continue to build and evolve the public realm of the city. We look forward to how this conversation will allow us to think productively about the past and future of Toronto’s built fabric. Continue reading…

Jane’s Walk Yorkville, Sat. May 4th

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With Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and Architects Ken Greenberg and Michael McClelland
Saturday, May 4, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Meet at Yorkville Public Library (seen in photo), 22 Yorkville Avenue

Yorkville, one of Toronto’s most historic and culturally rich neighbourhoods, has seen dramatic transformation over the past two hundred years and remains subject to further change. But is this change sustainable? Continue reading…